Friday, March 20, 2009

I Understand You're Tired, but a Tax Revolt's not the Right Answer

Don Cooper has a good post on expressing general disgust with government and recommending a tax revolt. I wholeheartedly agree with his sentiments, but a tax revolt is the wrong answer. Not because it wouldn't work, but because it addresses the problem at the wrong level. While it's true that government couldn't exist without our financial support, our ideological support is much more important. What's worse, we can see our money going to taxes (or at least some of it), but most of us have no idea that our beliefs and values are the foundation of government.

The primary question of politics is this: should decisions be made by individuals for themselves, or by a smaller group of individuals for everyone? Most people claim to believe the former, but when push comes to shove, invariably favor the latter. This is the core of the problem. Government exists and is powerful because we want it to exist and be powerful. Until we change our minds on this, tax revolt, "throw the bums out", etc., won't work.

There's also quite a bit of denial surrounding this issue. For example, some of us believe that everything would be O.K. if only we put everything back the way it was in the 50's. Others believe that everything would be all right if only we got the right people into office. Both groups of people really believe in government; they just disagree with the current implementation.

Really fixing things requires as a prerequisite withdrawing our beliefs and not just our tax dollars. If this is done, a tax revolt is irrelevant except that it may speed up things. If it is not done, a tax revolt is irrelevant at best.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Re: I'm not Joining the Strike

Brian Hurt recently made a post on Enfranchised Mind about the proposed refusal of internet authors to support candidates for office who aren't in favor of public campaign financing. He's against the "strike" for the obvious reason that it won't work, and seems to have a good understanding of the reason why: it's rather foolish to look for a solution to a problem from the people who created it in the first place.

The way I look at it, the first question that should be asked is: How prevalent is corruption in government? If it's just a small percentage of elected officials, the answer is to get rid of them. No finance reform necessary. If the problem is more pervasive, and a belief that it is is implied by the belief that campaign finance reform is needed, it won't work for the reason Mr. Hurt mentions: the solution will be implemented by people who are part of the problem. Any laws they pass will contain loopholes.

Mr. Hurt has a good answer to this dilemma. Everyone who blogs has a free press because they have a press. Decentralization of the media is absolutely a good thing.

However, there is a deeper problem. It's not just politicians who are corrupt. The system as it stands involves people voting themselves into other people's pockets. Anything government does beside set ground rules that apply equally to everyone, or provide infrastructure, inherently favors one group of people at the expense of others. This is corrupting by nature, and corrupts everyone involved. In the case of welfare-type provisions, the corruption is even worse because the people involved believe they're doing the right thing.

In the end, there's only one way to get money out of politics, and that's to get politics out of money.